Here’s my full Sunday column, from how lawmakers anted up for the arts after first killing the Idaho Commission on the Arts budget, to a roundup of nine legislative limericks from the final week and a half of the session:
BOISE – After the Idaho House earlier had earlier rejected the budget for the Idaho Commission on the Arts in an unrelated dispute, it voted 51-17 on Thursday in favor of a new version with just one difference: There’s an extra $200 in the budget for private donations for arts education projects.
Rep. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls, in an unusual move, announced to the House, “I’m taking up a collection.” She brandished a stack of cash. “Members of JFAC have already been very generous, as well as many members around me,” she told the House.
The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, on which Horman serves, can’t write an identical budget after one’s been killed; it has to make at least some small change. Horman proposed a $100 higher amount, with the intention of taking up the collection from lawmakers; Sen. Dan Schmidt, D-Moscow, one-upped her, proposing $200 instead. That’s the budget that passed the joint committee.
Horman said, “Good ladies and gentlemen of the House, please help me put to rest the worries of the Arts Commission.” Lawmakers anted up $210.
Legislative Limerick No. 1: Honk, honk, honk
I penned this limerick a week and a half before the close of this year’s Idaho legislative session, inspired by a very large Canada goose that was comfortably perched on a Statehouse window ledge, looking for all the world like it was hers and hers alone:
With lawmakers still on the loose
Lots of ideas have got juice
From Sharia slams
To plastic-bag bans
Time to leave this place to the goose?
Legislative Limerick No. 2: When the gears of government grind
Gears often grind toward the end of a legislative session, and people get testy. But certain types of bills don’t tend to see as many hold-ups, inspiring this limerick:
Laws to address all the fears
From Sharia to Bible sneers
Go gliding on through
As gun-rights bills do
While other stuff gums up the gears.
Legislative Limerick No. 3: Rep. Dixon’s revelation
During debate on a Bible-in-schools bill in the House, opponents raised questions about whether the measure violated the Idaho Constitution, to which the bill’s House sponsor, North Idaho Rep. Sage Dixon, R-Ponderay, said, “The little Supreme Court in my head says this is OK.” That inspired this limerick:
There’s a little Supreme Court in his head
And he’ll tell us all what it said
How this will hasten
Now no one could possibly see red.
Legislative Limerick No. 4: Some session accomplishments
This limerick was inspired by major reforms that had passed, even as lawmakers were focused on unrelated late-session fights:
From firefighter cancer coverage to suicide prevention to public defense reform…
Things that were long in the works
Have seen more than just fits and jerks
For all the debate
That carried less weight
Some actual big reform lurks.
Legislative Limerick No. 5: On avoiding doing nothing.
I wrote this limerick after a series of fits and starts in the House Health & Welfare Committee, which first scheduled a meeting to consider small grant and study committee steps toward dealing with the health care gap coverage issue, then canceled the meeting in favor of working on a more comprehensive plan to actually provide coverage to those in the gap, then stepped back again and just passed the two original bills.
A grant and a study committee
To show that lawmakers have pity
For folks in the gap
Cause the session’s a wrap
It’s something, but it’s itty-bitty.
Legislative Limerick No. 6: Time for sine die?
House Speaker Scott Bedke surprised House members on the Wednesday of the final week of this year’s session with a dozen original limericks, all strictly within the bounds of House rules, and designed around the formalities of recognizing lawmakers as they present bills. “I started ‘em, and then it turned out that Mary Lou is like a whiz,” Bedke said, referring to Assistant to the Speaker Mary Lou Molitor. “So I gave her the last line, and she’d back into ‘em.”
He added, “So if I gave credit where it’s due, we would all be thanking Mary Lou.”
Bedke said the outbreak of rhyming was prompted by a kick House members had been on in recent days, using flowery oratory when they make their standard request to waive further reading before they begin presenting a bill. “I appreciate that,” Bedke said. “So I felt that as a tension-breaker, I would season my responses today on the floor with that.” He noted that emotions were running high in the House. So, that prompts this:
Who knew the speaker could rhyme
And turn a fine phrase on a dime
But Mary Lou’s skill
Could all be for nil
Unless it is soon quittin’ time.
Legislative Limerick No. 7: What the geese leave behind
Hundreds, or possibly thousands, of Canada geese populate downtown Boise, and can be seen all around the state Capitol. Hence this rhyme:
Little green piles of goose poop
Dot downtown routes to the Capitol stoop
To see lawmaking done
But first they encounter some goop.
Legislative Limerick No. 8: What will the reps do?
This limerick was penned after the Senate had amended HB 644, the health care bill, to append a proposal to begin negotiations for a federal waiver to cover Idahoans who make less than 100 percent of the poverty level with a new managed-care plan:
So, will House members concur?
Hatreds of feds they’ll aver
With senators wanting
What some reps find daunting
That chamber is now quite astir.
Legislative Limerick No. 9: It’s 7:25 p.m. and both houses are still on the floor…
This limerick was penned on what was supposed to be the final night of the legislative session, but turned out not to be. That’s because the House didn’t take up either of the bills mentioned, instead adjourning to come back and handle them in the morning. The Senate, however, did finish up and adjourned sine die on Thursday night at 9.
As they debate into the night
Will some of them run out of fight?
There’s still the gap bill
And legal fund for $8 mil
Before they can turn out the light.